FIFTY-NINTH WYOMING LEGISLATURE
APPROVED INTERIM COMMITTEE STUDIES
JOINT JUDICIARY INTERIM COMMITTEE
Standard Budget: $25,000
Priority 1 Juvenile Probation Services
Juveniles entering the justice system receive disparate treatment, depending on the court in which the juvenile appears and the location of the court. While juvenile courts have access to a wide array of services to treat a juvenile offender, other courts, including district, circuit and municipal courts may, or may not, be able to access services for the juvenile, depending on the location of the court. Early intervention and diversion services for juveniles are often successful in avoiding future involvement with the justice system. The Committee will conduct a comprehensive review of juvenile services that are available to courts at the various jurisdictional levels throughout the state. After the review is complete, the Committee will consider approaches to ensure access to early intervention services for juveniles, regardless of the jurisdictional level or location of the court. This study may extend into the 2008 interim to ensure draft legislation is comprehensive in addressing the availability of services to juveniles involved with the justice system in Wyoming.
Priority 2 DNA post-conviction appeals process
The accuracy of DNA evidence and testing procedures has resulted in a recent increasein the exoneration of persons erroneously convicted of crimes after having spent, in some cases, many years incarcerated. Currently, 41 states have developed some procedures for persons convicted of crimes to appeal their convictions based on DNA evidence, after the normal time periods for appeals have been exhausted. Wyoming is one of 9 states that does not have procedures in place to allow such appeals. The Committee will explore the need for establishing such procedures in Wyoming.
Priority 3 Criminal sentencing review
Wyoming is ranked eighth in the nation in the number of persons incarcerated per capita. Many recent legislative proposals have included establishing increased minimum mandatory sentences and increased maximum sentences. Such sentencing proposals place increased pressure on the corrections system to meet the demands of prisoners remaining within the corrections system for longer periods. Several recent studies, and the experience in Colorado and other states, suggest that ever increasing rates of incarceration and their subsequent budgetary costs are subject to diminishing returns in effectiveness of impact upon crime rates. Some states have conducted reviews of their sentencing procedures and priorities, and have restructured their systems to reduce sentencing and maximize the efficiencies of their corrections system without increasing, and in some cases reducing, the level of crime in the state. The Committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the available data, along with a review of sentencing laws, the application of those laws by the courts, andhow other states have addressed the stresses on the corrections system caused by the sentencing policies of the state. This study may be extended into the 2008 interim to ensure a rational approach to criminal sentencing is proposed, if necessary.
Priority 4 Lien Statutes Study
Last interim, the Committee was charged with reviewing lien statutes and proposing recommended legislative changes. After consideration of proposed legislation based on the work of a group of attorneys appointed by the Wyoming State Bar, the Committee determined that a significantly more comprehensive review of lien statutes was necessary and subsequently proposed legislation to create a lien study task force. That legislation, 07SF0037, failed. The Committee believes a comprehensive study of the lien laws of Wyoming should be conducted, but believes this study may take 2 years to ensure the laws are reviewed thoroughly before proposing legislation. The Committee therefore proposes to begin this study during the 2007 interim, with possible completion of the study, including proposed legislation, during the 2008 interim.
Tentative Meeting Schedule
The Committee anticipates a 1-day meeting in May or June; a 2-day meeting in July; and a 2-day meeting in September.